Update from Dr. Sovine on Successes and New Instruction

April 9, 2020

As we prepare for a Spring Break that’s quite different than we anticipated just over a month ago, I want to again thank you for the flexibility and support you have demonstrated through this most challenging time. The past several weeks have been a whirlwind, but thanks to the dedication of our staff, we have enjoyed many successes including:
  • Providing students with opportunities to practice and reinforce skills at home that were previously taught at school
  • Serving more than 30,000 Grab-n-Go meals to school-aged children
  • Solving several hundred technical problems for students and staff at our Technical Triage Center
  • Distributing thousands of Bright Futures Food Packs
  • Providing Frederick County’s first responders with hand sanitizer and gloves
  • Collaborating with Frederick County Parks and Recreation to explore opening a childcare program to serve first responders and healthcare professionals
Please note that during Spring Break (April 10-14), we will not be offering Grab-n-Go meals and the Technical Triage Center will be closed. Both of these services will resume operations on weekdays beginning Wednesday, April 15 and continue until further notice (http://bit.ly/FCPSservices). They will be closed on May 1 and May 25 which remain FCPS holidays.

On April 15, teachers will transition from providing materials and activities designed to allow students to practice and reinforce skills that were previously taught and will begin offering new learning opportunities. The new learning will be provided in three units- April 15-30, May 4-22 and May 26-June 5. In order to accommodate students who do not have Internet access, hard copy materials will be made available for families to pick up at schools. Details on that effort will be communicated by individual teachers and/or schools. We are also exploring the possibility of mailing materials to those families who do not have Internet access. If you do not have Internet access and have not already done so, please contact each school in which you have a child enrolled and make them aware.

The new learning that will be offered starting next week will be designed to inspire curiosity, make real world connections and enable students to learn by thinking and doing. Rather than addressing particular standards, the new learning will focus on big ideas, concepts and major skills and blend the competencies of the Frederick County Public Schools Portrait of a Graduate into the content and concepts being taught. As this effort is undertaken, teachers will maintain frequent contact with students. In addition, the Special Instructional Services Department will be connecting with the families of students with disabilities to ensure instructional and service needs (speech, occupational therapy, etc.) are met.

Although it is important for students to continue to practice the skills they were taught prior to schools being closed and to engage in the new learning that will be provided through June 5, there is no requirement for students to submit assignments or complete the lessons and activities being provided. Final grades for the 2019-20 school year will be based upon grades received in the first through third nine-week grading periods. Students will be provided feedback on work they complete in the fourth nine-week grading period, but will not be assigned a numeric or letter grade. The report card for the fourth nine-week grading period will include a “P” for pass or “NG” for no grade given.

Standards of Learning tests (SOLs) are not going to be administered this year. Thanks to flexibility being provided by the Virginia Department of Education (VDOE), students enrolled in high school courses that would normally require them to pass the corresponding end-of-course SOL in order to receive a verified credit for the course will have other means by which they can earn the verified credit. Specifically, students who were in good academic standing (passing the course) at the time of the school closure will receive a verified credit for the course. In addition, the process for receiving a locally-awarded verified credit will be applied and students who were on track to earn a standard credit in a course will also be awarded a verified credit. Specific questions regarding course credits should be directed to the student’s school counselor. The VDOE has also provided guidance on graduation requirements, awarding of credits and continuity of learning

As I shared in my last communication, I recognize there are still many questions for which we do not yet have answers. Please know that we are continuing to prioritize issues, developing plans to address them and providing frequent communications with updated information as it becomes available. I encourage you to stay up-to-date by visiting our website for information as well as answers to frequently asked questions (http://bit.ly/FCPSCOVID19 and http://bit.ly/FCPSCOVID19espanol). We are also utilizing the FCPS Rapid Communication System and the FCPS Facebook page to provide updates.

Thanks again for your patience and support as we continue to move forward together.

Dr. David T. Sovine
Superintendent of Schools